26th June 2024


The world we live in is encumbered with all too many unholy deaths – whether because of human conflict, natural phenomena such as floods and droughts, or violence in the home, or in the city. How do we bring such a problematical and violent world before God in our intercessions? We are perplexed by the invasion of Ukraine and by endless combat in Gaza and the West Bank, whilst flood and storm, without much attention from the British media, bring untimely deaths to people elsewhere. Moreover, whilst death was limited in the UK by the use of vaccines to control Covid, in less fortunate parts of the world endemics still occasion untimely mortality.

Certain limitations on our discernment of what is at stake need to be recognised – first, we cannot fully understand the complex causes of such distress, and secondly, we need to understand that God’s ways are not our ways and are often beyond our comprehension.

Behind much of the words of the prophets in the Old Testament lies the story of the people of Judaea being punished by God and taken into captivity by the Chaldeans, a fierce pagan people, for breaking covenant with Him. But equally their return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple was the work of Cyrus, king of the Persians, also a pagan agent fulfilling God’s purposes.

In our intercessions, then, we should righty pray, that in all places of conflict and deprivation, there be peace with justice for all God’s children, but we need to be careful not to make our intercessions over precise so that they become an agenda we impose upon the Almighty. Rather we should heed Jesus’ instructions, and simply pray, both ‘Deliver us from evil’, and, ‘Your will be done’, seeking ourselves to be instruments whereby ‘his kingdom comes’.

John Briggs